My proverbial “coming out”

My coming out is not in the sense of sexual orientation.

Well I’m coming out to say I’m not a Catholic anymore. I don’t buy the whole story of Jesus being up in the clouds. I’m not a christian per se either. I’m a de facto atheist. Although I didn’t want to identify as such initially because I had a negative perception of atheism stemming from my staunch Catholic upbringing. But I have learnt over the last few years that you don’t need to worship a deity so as to fulfil your life or have a yardstick for morality. 

As far back as I can remember, I always found church frankly boring. I enjoyed these scripture and preaching. Partly because literature was my first love. After movies and TV shows. And also because I have a keen interest in history. I found most masses tiring and used them as a time of reflection and personal thought. Up to now, if I want to think clearly, I go to church. 

In 2012, the chaplain at my school said something that started me on my way to atheism. 

I asked him, “Some sins aren’t specified in the bible or anywhere but they are still wrong. At times you have to sin so as to protect someone else. You could have to lie to your friend that you aren’t sick so as to make sure he doesn’t worry about you. Stuff like that”

He replied, “Whatever you do, wherever you are, whoever you represent, whenever you are going to do something always ask yourself this question, ‘Is it fair?’. And you’ll always know whether what you do is right or wrong.”

Afterwards I thought long and hard about it for days and weeks. I applied it to every situation I was in. I always asked myself, “Is this fair to my neighbor or to me or to the people around me??”

It wasn’t long before I discovered there were some loopholes when it came to fairness in the church. For instance, is it fair to have only male priests occupying superior positions? Is it fair to allow or condone sexism in the church? Is it fair to not allow LGBT people into church but keep letting murderers and rapists in after repentance? Is it fair to perform fake miracles to sell people a fantasy that has never been real? Or is there any fairness in the mass genocide perpetrated by various religions allover the world? Keep in mind, I always thought the church was infallible, and I was living in Michael Shermer’s bubble of positive reinforcement (Shermer references the bubble while trying to explain the closed environment created around children in religious schools and communities where you don’t hear a thing from the other side). But just a quick perusing of church history swiftly, and decisively, disproves the assertion. 

It wasn’t an instantaneous flip of a switch. It was a slow gradual process. It took time. I went along with it. Patience was the key. I asked big questions about my belief and read and looked at Catholicism deeply. I separated the things I liked about it and those I didn’t. I’ll talk more on that in later posts.

So the journey started in 2012, by the start of 2014 I had serious doubts about my religion. By the end of 2014, I had lost my sense of belief. In fact after some swift book reading about belief and unbelief, I realised, for a long time, I was a deist. Early 2015 I was already a part atheist. Though I didn’t want to be affiliated with atheism and religion. I wanted to be free of arguments about religion or atheism. I didn’t want any of it anymore. I realised I had spent too much time on things that didn’t matter. 

Mid-2016 saw me run into my first Richard Dawkins literature – The God Delusion. Suddenly I could explain exactly what I felt, I understood better how I felt about organised religion. I realised I had always been an atheist but I was foolish/in denial about it. Dawkins talks about how religions recruit kids before they even have an opinion about it. I was a victim of that. I was baptized before I could even say a word. I grew up Catholic but as soon as I could make a decision out of sound mind, I concluded, as a thinking being, religion has no purpose (except psychological torture) in my life. So I dumped it in the dustbin. 

Although I still have a revulsion toward the term atheist, I don’t avoid it. Instead, I prefer the term skeptic or nonbeliever. This is partly because I’m a natural skeptic. About everything. I suspect where I shouldn’t. I see uncertainty where everyone is certain. I see order where there’s chaos. I see peace where a pacifist sees peace. I see beautiful where a scientist sees mathematics and unknowables. I am a skeptic.